Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Binary Knitting

You may have noticed by now that I'm a huge geek. It's ok; I am geeky and proud. Today's post should prove that rather conclusively.

Have you ever noticed how much math there is in knitting and crochet? Seriously, from gauge measurements,  to ratios between hook or needle size and yarn thickness, from stitch patterns, to determining how many increase stitches to add, it's all math. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

I also love puzzles. Math puzzles, logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles; they're all great. Codes and ciphers too! And computers! And binary! So, what's more natural than trying to put all those things together, right? (I'm also far from the first person to do so. Go Google "knitting" and "binary" together and you'll see what I mean.)

So how do we put math, computers, puzzles and knitting together? Well, here's how I did it:

First, I thought of a nice phrase to encode. In my case it was "This codebreaker is nice and warm! Can you break the code? 42!"
You probably know that your computer breaks everything down to 1's and 0's to process and store information. So to move this code along, we just put the text into the same code your computer uses. Just paste the text into a text-to-binary converter like This will give you your coded message in binary:
01010100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 01100010 01110010 01100101 01100001 01101011 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101110 01101001 01100011 01100101 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110111 01100001 01110010 01101101 00100001 00100000 01000011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100010 01110010 01100101 01100001 01101011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00111111 00100000 00110100 00110010 00100001

Next, I had to decide what to do with all these numbers. Well, in knitting you pretty much have two stitches; knits and purls. So I decided to knit the 1's and purl the 0's. (Cause both p's and 0's are kind of round.)
So I picked some nice thick yarn that would show the stitches and started a scarf by casting on 14 stitches. This way I could have a nice border of garter stitch (knit everything) and an interior set of 8 stitches. You'll notice that the above binary is cut up into blocks of 8; each set of 8 is one text character.
To code the scarf I knit across all the even rows, and knit and purl according to the code on the odd rows.
For example, the above coded scarf pattern looked like this:

Cast on 14
Row 1-4) Knit
Row 5) Knit 3, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl 2, knit 3
Row 6 and all even rows) Knit
7) Knit 3, purl, knit 2, purl, knit, purl 3, knit 3
9) Knit 3, purl, knit 2, purl, knit, purl 2, knit, knit 3

Here's what the beginning looks like:

It's subtle, to be sure. But I'll take another picture when it's all done for you guys. And you can be sure I'll be wearing my coded scarf and laughing on the inside. :D

Any geeky crafts making you giggle right now? And what would you code into your knitting?


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